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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

No Holds Barred: Bellator Conference Call with Ben Askren, King Mo, Karl Amoussou, Bjorn Rebney, Kevin Kay 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman presents the complete audio of the January 18 Bellator MMA media conference call featuring fighters Ben Askren, "King" Mo Lawal, and Karl Amoussou, along with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and Spike TV president Kevin Kay.

This conference call focused on the next Bellator MMA card slated for Thursday, January 24, at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, OK. It will be televised live in the U.S. on Spike TV.

On that card, Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren will defend his title against welterweight tournament winner Karl Amoussou. Also on that card will be the Bellator debut of "King" Mo Lawal in an opening round fight against Przemyslaw Mysiala in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament.

While the unbeaten Ben Askren may be the favorite in his title fight, challenger Karl Amoussou is quite confident he will capture the belt.

"Obviously Ben is a very good wrestler. That's not a surprise to anybody. But I think I'm the most-well rounded fighter," said Karl Amoussou on this conference call. He also noted his unpredictability as giving him the advantage in this fight.

Spike TV president Kevin Kay joined the discussion towards the end of the call, providing the ratings information for Bellator's Spike TV debut on Thursday, January 17. For the past two seasons, live Bellator shows in the U.S. were seen on the lower-rated MTV2.

"It is the most-watched Bellator event in the history of Bellator," said Kevin Kay on this conference call. "We started the night in the first 15 minutes with 1.2 million viewers. The Curran-Pitbull fight, 1.1 million watched the Curran-Pitbull fight in that first half-hour. Overall, we were up 394 percent increase over last season's show premiere. And 938,000 viewers watched the entire broadcast." He added that 950,000 viewers watched the Michael Chandler-Rick Hawn fight, won by Bellator lightweight champion Chandler with a second-round submission, a fight considered by many to be the highlight of the telecast.

There also was much more discussion with all the fighters and Bjorn Rebney and Kevin Kay about the January 17 and 24 Bellator cards, their tournaments, and much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City February 16 and 17, 2013, for the fourth annual MMA World Expo, featuring an amateur MMA tournament, grappling, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, February 16, and Sunday, February 17, 2013, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

Beezid.com - Penny Auctions. Your #1 source for exciting auction shopping and outstanding deals on just about anything! Top rated, most trusted auction site online. Where do you shop? Beezid.com - Penny Auctions.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Holds Barred: Ben Askren on January 24 Bellator Title Defense and Voluntary Anti-Doping Association 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with Bellator MMA welterweight champion Ben Askren.

His next fight will be Thursday, January 24, when he defends his title against welterweight tournament winner Karl Amoussou. This fight will take place at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, and be telecast live in the U.S. on Spike TV. Also on that card will be the Bellator debut of "King" Mo Lawal in an opening round fight in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament.

We spoke with Ben Askren by phone Wednesday afternoon about what to expect in this fight, as well as his participation in the drug-testing program of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

"Karl's an explosive fighter. He comes out and goes hard," he said of his opponent in this interview. "He is dangerous in a lot of different areas, but at the same time I don't think he poses a big challenge for me. He doesn't strike very proficiently. He does come out and be aggressive. But I know I'll be able to weather that initial storm and then do a lot of damage and control him in the fight, because he doesn't fight hard for very long. He fights hard for a short period of time. And if he doesn't win, then he tries to kind of hang on for the rest of the fight."

The VADA testing program consists of voluntary, random, unannounced blood and urine testing for performance-enhancing drugs. While Ben is one of the few MMA athletes to participate in the VADA program, he said that the various athletic commissions and promoters must take further measures and have better testing to stop the widespread use of PEDs in MMA.

PED use in MMA is so widespread that he commented, "Some people are very open about it. Some people don't even make it a secret, which is embarrassing." Asked to make a guesstimate as to what percentage of MMA fighters use PEDs, he replied, "I would go somewhere around 50. 50 percent would be a good guess."

We discussed his transition from college and Olympic freestyle wrestling into being a mixed martial arts fighter, and how he continues to follow closely the sport of wrestling. We also discussed that his younger brother, Max Askren, who like Ben had been a Div. I NCAA wrestling champion for Missouri, will be representing the U.S. at the 2013 Freestyle Wrestling World Cup at 84kg in Tehran, Iran, February 21-22, and more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City February 16 and 17, 2013, for the fourth annual MMA World Expo, featuring an amateur MMA tournament, grappling, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, February 16, and Sunday, February 17, 2013, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

Beezid.com - Penny Auctions. Your #1 source for exciting auction shopping and outstanding deals on just about anything! Top rated, most trusted auction site online. Where do you shop? Beezid.com - Penny Auctions.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

No Holds Barred: Bellator Debut on Spike January 17 Preview with Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn, Pat Curran, Patricio Pitbull, Babalu, Bjorn Rebney 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with Bellator MMA fighters Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn, Pat Curran, Patricio Pitbull, and Renato "Babalu" Sobral, and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney.

The highly-anticipated debut of Bellator MMA on Spike TV will take place this Thursday, January 17, on a card at the University of California’s Bren Center in Irvine, California. It will be broadcast live in the U.S. on Spike TV and in the Spanish language on mun2.

Bellator returns with a bang by featuring two title fights on this first card of 2013. Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will defend his belt against challenger and former U.S. judo Olympian Rick Hawn. Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran will face Patricio "Pitbull" Freire. This card will also feature the start of the Bellator season eight light heavyweight tournament, including an opening round bout between grappling and MMA veteran Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Russian MMA fighter and former combat sambo champion Mikhail Zayats.

On a series of recent Bellator media conference calls, we had a chance to speak with Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn, Pat Curran, Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, Renato "Babalu" Sobral, and Bjorn Rebney. We discussed with the fighters what to expect in these important title and tournament fights, and with Bjorn Rebney the plans for upcoming tournaments.

In these interviews, former Missouri wrestling All-American Michael Chandler called it "an honor" to fight an Olympian and an "awesome" opponent like Rick Hawn, while Rick Hawn noted that this fight "has the potential to live up to the Alvarez-Chandler fight", the four-round war in November 2011 where Chandler captured the Bellator lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez. Both fighters come from different grappling backgrounds, but have added effective striking to their arsenals to sustain them at this level of competition.

Pat Curran described his transformation from being a wrestler who fought MMA into a fighter who has become more confident as a striker. "I love striking. I love everything about it. I love learning new moves, new techniques." Patricio "Pitbull" Freire stated that his opponent is an "all-around" fighter and "complete in all areas". We shall see how much striking and grappling will take place in this fight, but both fighters can win on their feet or on the ground.

With their compelling title fights, championship tournament format, and the best TV deal they've ever had, Bellator MMA, which began in 2009, is now in a position to make a major and lasting impact on the MMA world. Their January 17 debut card on Spike is one of the strongest MMA shows which will ever be shown on free TV in the U.S., so make sure to watch it.

Plus, we briefly comment on the Eddie Alvarez contract situation and its coverage in the media.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City February 16 and 17, 2013, for the fourth annual MMA World Expo, featuring an amateur MMA tournament, grappling, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, February 16, and Sunday, February 17, 2013, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

Beezid.com - Penny Auctions. Your #1 source for exciting auction shopping and outstanding deals on just about anything! Top rated, most trusted auction site online. Where do you shop? Beezid.com - Penny Auctions.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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